*Avella isn't a fluke. Not like everybody thought -- at least not me -- that the Eagles lucked into their first three wins, but they beat a legitimate playoff team in Jefferson-Morgan. Some respect earned Friday night, I would think.
*The pecking order in the Black Hills is a little more pronounced: Clairton ... then ... OK, a little bigger gap ... Bishop Canevin, Monessen and Imani Christian/Brentwood. After that Fort Cherry and Chartiers-Houston.
*Peters Township isn't Upper St. Clair, but, with a 3-1 record, the Indians also are definitely not in the cellar. This team will make the playoffs.
And on we go with this week's recap post, style tweaked a little bit.
Starting 11 (six skill players, plus an offensive line):
RB Shai McKenzie, Washington -- Ran for 219 yards on 19 carries and scored the first three TDs of a 42-12 win at Yough. His season numbers: 49/770/13.
WR Zach Thompson, Avella -- Caught three passes for 109 yards and two scores during the Eagles' 26-21 win over J-M. Also intercepted the pass that clinched it.
RB Demetrius Louis, Ringgold -- Rushed for 261 yards and two TDs on 12 carries. Also caught a 50-yard TD pass during the Rams' 30-13 victory at Uniontown.
RB Josh Mundell, Carmichaels -- Did it all Friday during a 40-14 win over Vincentian: scoring two rushing touchdowns and picking off a pair of passes.
RB Mike Minjock, Peters Township -- After a slow week against Upper St. Clair, he got back at it during a 36-7 win at Shaler: 17 carries, 157 yards, four TDs.
WR Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette -- Pitt recruit caught four passes for 136 yards and a touchdown during Saturday's 56-6 win over Burgettstown. Also returned an interception 38 yards for a second score: Season: 16/444/6.
Wash High OL: Prexies totaled 350 yards of offense at Yough, 315 of them rushing. Besides McKenzie, Chivar Brown ran four times for 41 yards and a touchdown. Here are the guys to thank:
LT Pat Ellis, Jr., 6-2, 260
LG Elijah Jones, Sr., 6-0, 220
C Xavier Darden, Jr., 5-10, 192
RG Anthony Byrd, Jr., 6-0, 235
RT Rikwon Moore, Sr., 6-2, 280Did you expect someone else? C'mon. As a sportswriter, I don't root for anything except quick games and to never, ever see overtime. But if you can't feel good for the football team at Avella -- winners of three games the past five years before this one, the focus of a 2008 New York Times story -- and its 4-0 record, there might be something wrong with you.
Team of the week: Avella
Team of the week: Avella
Not only that, Avella also fought back after allowing J-M to score on its first two offensive plays and survived a frantic fourth quarter that featured a touchdown to make it a one-score game, two fumbles and a game-clinching interception.
Left for dead after losses to South Fayette and Seton-La Salle, look who's riding a two-game winning streak. I asked first-year head coach Ed Dalton what the biggest difference was between the first two weeks and the past two, with wins at Quaker Valley (29-20) and at home Friday against Freedom (39-13). "Well, for starters, we're not playing South Fayette and Seton-La Salle anymore." Very true, Ed, very true.
Game of the week: Avella 26, Jefferson-Morgan 21
I would love to know what the attendance was at Friday's game. Place was packed. And at Avella that means people encircling the field -- no fence, just rope, real up close and personal. At one point, I heard someone yell, "Hey, guy from the newspaper, get the [heck] out of the way." So I moved. But the fourth quarter alone here was worth the price of admission.
*J-M opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a touchdown capping a four-play, 80-yard drive; Avella moved 28 yards on five plays, but on No. 6 the Eagles fumbled; first and 10 Rockets at their own 48, a play later there's another fumble, recovered by Jerad Saffell from Avella, huge momentum swing; QB Santino Paris sacked on third down, forcing the Eagles to punt; after the touchback, J-M's Dustin Conti runs 6 then 7 yards, Jesse Jento zero yards, and Conti goes 6, 14, 5 and 2 yards; J-M QB Tyler Bowman is hit at the line of scrimmage, and a personal foul puts the ball at the Avella 25; next play, Zach Thompson picks off Bowman to end it. Whew.
Hot and cold (three of each):
Avella -- Four straight wins for a program that hasn't been to the playoffs since the golden era of the Grateful Dead (1976)? Yep, that'll do it.
McGuffey -- See above. And RB James Duschi has turned into a stud: 50 carries, 360 yards, 3 TDs the last two weeks.
Ringgold -- Blasted by TJ, 41-14, in the opener, Rams have won three straight, beating Laurel Highlands, Belle Vernon and Uniontown by an average of 23.7 ppg.
Fort Cherry -- That 2-0 start is a distant memory, buried underneath losses to Monessen and Brentwood. Oh, and did I mention the Rangers visit Clairton on Friday?
West Greene -- Pioneers were 1-0 and led Avella by two touchdowns at halftime of a Week 2 game, then ... loss, loss, loss ... average of 24 points per game.
Bentworth -- Outscored 51-155 through the first four weeks of the season, should get a nice pick-me-up with Vincentian this week.
Quote of the week: "That McKenzie kid is going to play on Sundays," Yough head coach Mark Crovak, talking about Shai McKenzie, who torched Yough for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
Weird stat of the week: Only two games (out of 16) area games were decided by single digits: Jefferson-Morgan/Avella and Imani Christian. Figures the Bucs were involved: they've lost three games -- to Clairton, Bishop Canevin and Imani Christian -- by a total of 10 points.
Looking ahead: Week 5 = jackpot. South Fayette/Seton La-Salle at Baldwin; Jeannette at Wash High; Bethel Park at Peters Township for what will likely be the No. 4 spot in the Southeastern, maybe the No. 3 if the Indians can knock off Woodland Hills; West Mifflin at Ringgold, giving the Rams another shot at someone atop the Class AAA Big Nine; even McGuffey's game against South Park starts a stretch where three of the Highlanders' four opponents have winning records ... the lone exception being South Allegheny, which isn't exactly a powerhouse. Easily the juiciest week of the year.